Posts tagged ‘writer’s block’
May 25, 2012
It’s not close to being a life altering epiphany. It’s not as big as an AHA! moment either. But a small current of self awareness and understanding did just buzz its way through my consciousness:
Must start writing my client’s website. So here I sit, at my neighbourhood Starbucks, where I often come to work. I’m all ready to go. Notes at my side. Laptop on. Fingers poised over the keyboard, tingling with anticipation (hmmm, wonder if this is how Mozart felt when his fingers were flexed over his keyboard??). Grande iced coffee far enough away from my computer and my iPhone to cause no concern (I’m a klutz — spilling is second nature to me).
Fingers stay poised. Turns out I’m not ready, after all. Seems I’m not in the mood yet, so I decide to take my mind of the task at hand by blogging. Hmmmm …
Surprise! I’m at a loss for words. And just then, it hit me:
This is not writer’s block. I am so filled up with the words I plan to use for my client work, there’s no room for me. For now I’ve turned my brain over to him. I’m in his head now. There is absolutely no cause for panic.
So now I’m thinking that maybe this is a bigger revelation than I first thought. Like actors, writers are chameleons. We leave ourselves behind when we take on the personas of the brands, the companies and the personalities of the individuals we’re portraying or, as in my case, writing about.
As long as I’m not at a loss for my client’s words I have nothing to worry about.
March 27, 2012
If you follow my blog you know I love Magnificent Nose. It’s another WordPress blog. Recently Sara Goas, one of the writers who contributes, had a great post: “Inspiration” — a fictional story about an English teacher, her students and ideas — and where they come from.
I loved this story because my entire career has been about ideas. So for me, it was very personal. Thankfully, it’s only happened to me once, but I have suffered through writer’s block, and let me assure you, it’s terrifying. So I know first hand just how hard to come by an idea can be; and, like the teacher in Sara’s story, I also know where to look for inspiration.
All around me.
People watch, in other words. Listen to what people say — about everything. About the books they’re reading, the movies they’ve seen, the fights they’ve had with their spouses, how their kids are driving them nuts, why they want to lose weight, why they want to gain weight, why they hate their job, what they’re looking for in a relationship, what they like to eat, why they can’t eat broccoli, where they like to travel, what the dog did, what their mother-in-law said, why they broke up, what they like and dislike about themselves.
Pay attention to what they do when they’re checking out the cereal aisle in the grocery store, when they’re stopped at a red light beside you, at the movies, in the departure lounge at the airport, at the dentist’s.
Become a voyeur. Eavesdrop. Just try to be discreet about it.
Which reminds me of a ‘discussion‘ I once had with a former boyfriend. Okay, he was pissed off and decided to let me know it. We were at a restaurant and when we were having our appetizers he suddenly stopped eating. Waving his fork in my face he threatened to leave if I didn’t start paying attention to the conversation he was trying to have with me.
Instead of listening to him it seems that I was totally engrossed in a couple sitting two or three tables away from us. They sat there like two total strangers. There was no warmth between them … no familiarity. They weren’t speaking. They weren’t even looking at each other. They were each lost in their own thoughts, and even looking in different directions.
Without really being aware of what I was doing, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. And unconsciously, as I sat there watching, in my head I was imagining their entire relationship and what had led up to this oh-so-lonely dinner, where the only thing they were sharing was the table. What’s more, I was writing dialogue — which I was sharing with my boyfriend, instead of having a conversation of our own. Hence his frustration.
He wasn’t wrong, of course, but the writer in me was happy. In the space of the hour or two that we all found ourselves under the same roof, between what they didn’t say, and their body language, I got enough material to write a book, or a movie or a play — or, as it turns out, even a good portion of this blog.
See. Ideas are everywhere. So let this be your warning. If you ever feel someone staring at you, it’s probably me. Don’t take it personally. And please don’t think I’m being nosy or rude. I’m just counting on you for some inspiration.
January 9, 2012
Who’d a thunk it?
Not so long ago I was trolling through WordPress, as I often do, looking for interesting blogs — and found one almost immediately (oh, I know there are tons of them), but this was the first one I got to and I loved it — so I didn’t look for any more that night. If you’re a writer — or even just love reading interesting, well-written posts — then you should check it out: Magnificent Nose. What I find really interesting is the fact that there are several writers who contribute to it. It’s a neat idea and they’re all great writers. In fact, I liked it so much, I decided to follow it, and subscribed so I would get email notices every time there’s a new post.
Over the holidays I was notified that Julie Goldberg — had just posted: “I don’t have time to believe in writer’s block”. I don’t know a writer who hasn’t, at one time or another, stared at a piece of paper (or a computer screen) hour after hour, day after day, maybe even week after week or month after month — and it just stared back. So needless to say I was intrigued. And once I got into her story I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
What Julie was describing was a scenario I am currently living through — or at least was living through until I read her blog post: A novel she’s been writing for about 20 years. A project she starts and stops and starts and stops etc. etc. etc. The good news is, she’s finally making some good progress. But that’s not why I’m sharing this with you.
I started writing a book almost 4 years ago. Amazingly, I had about 6 chapters written in 5 months — and I had a full time job at the time. Got off to a really fabulous start while visiting friends in Bequia, where I wrote 3 chapters in 10 days. And then I hit a wall.
No, it wasn’t writer’s block. It took me about a month to figure out that I was avoiding the chapter that came next because it dealt with subject matter I didn’t want to re-live: The death of my mother. Once I figured that out I had a decision to make. Deal with it and write the chapter or abandon the book forever more, because the book would not be the book without that chapter.
By then I had become a freelance writer and a strategic consultant so I was working from home. The quiet was too much for me so I took my laptop to a neighbourhood Starbucks and wrote it in 3 days. I sat there for as long as 7 hours a day — and yes, I kept buying. I drowned myself in coffee and tea and water and sustained myself with yoghurt and cheese and crackers and the odd slice of lemon poppyseed poundcake — so I didn’t have to feel guilty about being there all day.
And that was that.
Several times I tried to get back into it and couldn’t. I was distracted. I knew it wasn’t writer’s block — I have been doing all kinds of writing — just not on my book. The longer I was away from my book, the more pissed off at myself I became. I love the idea of this book and desperately want to write it; and finish it; and share it.
But I just couldn’t focus on doing it. At one point I decided to go away for a month — to some remote locale where I’d have no distractions — nothing else to do but write. Until life took over and I got a new client and was too busy (happily) writing for him to spend any time on myself.
Now, of course, I don’t care. Because Julie’s blog struck a chord with me — a big chord. And that very night I, once again, got excited about my book. In my head I started working out the chapter to come. I’m trying to write something every day — and so far, I’m succeeding — thanks to Magnificent Nose.
You see — inspiration can come from anywhere — even in your own backyard — which is exactly what WordPress is for those of us who blog here. Is there a moral to my story?
You bet. Don’t just come here to write your own blog. Spend some time reading other blogs. You’ll meet some great people who have some very interesting stories, many of whom have had or are having similar experiences to your own.
And who knows. They might even be able to help you sort out a problem or two. Look what happened to me.